PLANET EARTH — The eighth installment of the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” is now in theaters. While the film has some problems, it’s likely the best film in the franchise as well as one of the better movies of 2014 so far.
What makes it great
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” gave us an intriguing and thought-provoking story from the perspective of one very special ape, Caesar. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” manages to take it up a few more notches.
The story is strong and intriguing, and it’s told in a really captivating way that continues Caesar’s rise to power. The movie does fall victim to pacing, especially in the first half, but once things get going you’re hooked.
What really makes the entire story and spectacle worth it is Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance as Caesar. It really is amazing to see what the man can do without really saying much and displaying emotions through body language and facial expressions. It’s a truly incredible performance.
Serkis’ performance, however, wouldn’t be nearly as impressive if the computer graphics behind it weren’t some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
“Rise” included some incredible visuals, but “Dawn” is in a whole new league. You will literally be speechless at moments as you try to fathom the fact that all of these apes are CGI. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that these animals were created on a computer screen. It’s truly that impressive.
What makes it not so great
As I mentioned earlier, the movie has some real pacing problems. It takes a really long time to set up the scenario and it feels like a slow train making its way across the Midwest at times.
It’s not that the earlier story setup isn’t interesting, it’s just progressed a little slow, and that first hour feels more like an hour and a half.
The human characters all give great performances, especially Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman, but at the end we’re left not caring too much about them. Granted, this is the apes’ movie, but the humans play a critical role, and they often seem very one-dimensional.
These small critiques, however, can’t take away from the fact that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a well-done and beautiful film in many ways.
If you’re the least bit interested in the film, then you’ll want to take the time to see it. Be warned, however, this is definitely one of those sequels that you’ll want to see its predecessor before committing two hours to it.
There are nuances and references and entire storylines that will be missed if you’ve never seen “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is rated PG-13 and I gave it a 14+ age rating on OK.com